Painter Karen Essig in the Natural World

Sailboat by Karen Essig
Karen Essig CT painter
Painter Karen Essig, a Coastal Arts Guild Member,  depicts her New England home and neighbors in landscape, portrait and still life through watercolors & oils.

Guild member and painter Karen Essig will not be found painting in her studio all day. In fact, the room where she most recently used as her studio is now a spare room for her grandchildren.

Like many artists, Essig works full-time. She is a nurse.But her practical life has not stopped Essig from pursuing her dream one. She paints copiously.

“When I was young I would love watching my Mom paint pictures in her spare time. She is a very talented artist, and  I hoped her talents would rub off on me.  I started playing around with a sketch pad for fun as a young girl, and  I painted my first oil painting at the age of 16.”

Sailboat by Essig

It wasn’t until she was 50, that she started working with watercolors. She had found her medium.

“I had always worked worked in oils. It wasn’t until the last 5 years that I really expanded into watercolors. I love it.”
As a painter, Essig has enjoyed dozens of commissions over her years paintings, including children’s portraits as well as 15 paintings for the Hershey Hotel when it was remodeled.

As a lifelong New Englander, Essig said she is affected by the beach, the sea and the natural world.

“I am intriguied by nature and colorful subjects,” she said. “I like to paint realistic images. I have done everything from scenery to portraits to still lifes.”

Contact Karen Essig for commission portraits or to view a gallery of her latest available work.

A beautiful gift: Connecticut artist notecards

Tango: Mark Hannon

We’re proud to present a beautiful packet of Connecticut artist notecards, now available for sale here on our site.

The work of eight of our members are featured on the cards, including information about the artist and their work.

The work reflects a life in Connecticut by our coastal artists. The artwork represented includes watercolor, printmaking, mixed media, photography and poetry/collage.

The notecards are 4″x6″ and blank inside, with plain white envelopes.

Connecticut Ar Notecards

Featured Artist Tony Mack

Tony Mack and his art car "Hustle Hard"
“My real name is Cody Urban. Tony Mack in my artist name. I’m from Stratford. This is my home.”

Three months out of Stratford High School, Cody Urban — now known as Tony Mack, the artist of Colors Beyond Me — picked up and left Stratford. He went to the Bay Area of California, and points north of there. A woman he met hired him to work on her property, to take care of the house. Another man hired him to dig dirt.

“I didn’t know no one. Just took clothes and went to walk around and be free,” he said.

It was through these odd jobs that he met Mendocino, Calif.-based surface ornamentation artist Larry Fuente.
Tony Mack Fish

“I met him and I didn’t even know who he was. He would give me rides to the grocery store and stuff. He told me he made money gluing things onto stuff.”

Eventually Mack saved enough money for a bike. And then a 1974 lime green Dodge Dart Swinger. He started working on his first art car. He’d go to the beach and collect shells and sea glass and whatever else was free. He’s come home with backpacks of it.

One day he ran into Fuente at the store and showed him what he was working on. After that day, Mack said, “I was one of his kids. I would be at his family functions.”

Mack entered his first parade following Fuente. “He was my glue-ru.”


Mack returned to his home state because, he said, he felt in certain parts of the country, there are people who are willing to see and experience things differently. When he drove his “Hustle Hard” car art onto Paradise Green at the 2015 Artists & Artisans show, it turned every head.

“Why would you  want to be anywhere else?” he said. “With my work, I go out and try to make the change. And you will see people around that car who would not normally talk to each other. And they are together, sharing something.”

Tony Mack is a member of the Coastal Arts Guild of CT. 
See more of Tony Mack’s work at Colors Beyond Me. 

Suzanne Coiro – An American Watercolorist

Coastal Arts Guild of CT member Suzanne Coiro uses watercolors to create beautiful and representational visions of the natural world. Coiro is an American landscape and seascape watercolor painter based in Stratford, CT and formerly of Queens, New York.

 

Landscape by Suzanne Coiro

 

Throughout her life she has continued to refine her skills as a fine artist, but Suzanne began her artistic career in the early 1980’s as a graphic designer, designing corporate marketing materials primarily for the legal field. She received her initial training at Stony Brook University, Long Island, School of Visual Arts, NYC, and Parsons School of Design, NYC. She decided to close her personal graphic design business in 2007 and now devotes her time exclusively to painting.

 

 

Members of the guild enjoyed Coiro's discussion of her work at the guild's April meeting.
Members of the guild enjoyed Coiro’s discussion of her work at the guild’s April meeting.

Although her true love is the ocean, you will often find Suzanne at the beaches of Stratford and Milford, sketching dune grasses and the rocky shoreline of Long Island Sound. She will sometimes explore a floral or architectural subject.

Coiro's painting "Sunflower" was selected to be included in the Guild's notecard collection
Coiro’s painting “Sunflower” was selected to be included in the Guild’s notecard collection

Coiro is currently a member of the board of the Coastal Arts Guild of Connecticut, holding the office of Secretary since 2004 and in previous years when it was the Stratford Arts Guild.
If you wish to contact Suzanne to schedule a meeting to preview her work or to commission a work, email Coiro at s.coiro@sbcglobal.net.

An American Stratford, A UK ‘Shrew’

The Mighty Quinn Foundation, Inc.

Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford (Connecticut) welcomes back British alumni

CAST Cambridge Taming of the Shrew SA@S
“The Taming of the Shrew” will be performed free in Stratford, CT Friday, September 25, 7 p.m. at Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford (The White House) on Elm Street.

CAST, the Cambridge University American Stage Tour, group of young artists from the UK’s University of Cambridge will perform The Taming of the Shrew, Friday, September 25, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m at the Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford (SA@S) on Elm Street.

Tickets are free, but should be reserved in advance. Donations are warmly accepted to support the theatrical group.

The event is presented by The Mighty Quinn Foundation, which in 2014 launched SA@S, a training-intensive summer rep company for college students which focuses on Shakespeare and Ensemble Theater Making. It completed its second season this summer.

This season, SA@S welcomed three Cambridge students to the summer program.

CAST, established under the patronage of Dame Judi Dench in 2000, is one of the major international theatre tours of the University of Cambridge. It aims to bring the work of Shakespeare to as wide an audience as possible in the eastern United States.

Now in its sixteenth year, Cambridge University’s largest international tour show has been performing to packed houses and critical acclaim since 2000. Each September, Cambridge’s most talented actors, directors, designers and technicians travel across the Atlantic to bring a Shakespeare play to colleges, high schools and professional theaters.

The Mighty Quinn Foundation is a organizational member of the Coastal Arts Guild of CT.

To become a member, click here. 

Featured Artist Amy Oestreicher

Amy Festreicher 2015Amy Oestreicher is a mixed media artist who lives in Westport, CT.

Amy Oestreicher is a 28-year-old artist, musician, teacher, actress  composer, dancer, writer,yogi, foodie, and general lover of life. 

Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.

Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and dozens of solo art shows.


CAGCT: Did you study art?

AO: I learned art accidentally on my way to healing and don’t have much formal art training.

However, I plan on studying more of the technical aspects of art, such as figure drawing, to have a wider range in my work.

Being a self taught artist, the idea of drawing the human body always has intimidated me – we all have an inner critic! However, I used figures in my work over and over again throughout the years in order to process what I was feeling after nearly 30 life AND body-altering surgeries.

   Amy Oestreicher 2015 trees

After every surgery, I would wake up with a new anatomy – a bag here, no belly button here, this missing, that added. It was very dissociating and made me feel like an alien to myself. I drew the figure to find wholeness with my body again, to accept it, to show the different “selves” of me, to love it as my own.

Now, I am very fascinated with the figure in how it relates to the world, nature, and the flesh. Seeing my “figures” look more and more body-like reassures me – it lets me know that I am starting to feel human, starting to accept my body for what it has been through, and call it my own.

CAGCT: Who has influenced your work?

AO: Originally, painting… was an amazing way for me to express what was too overwhelming, frustrating and scary for words. Whatever distress I was feeling, whatever uncertainty I wrestled with, once I put my brush to the canvas, something felt released – my sadness was still there, but at least I could feel it. And so for a long while, my sadness inspired my painting. YET, it would transform my painting. …

… Of course, my latest inspiration has been … my fiancé – who will become my husband in a few weeks. Basically, life inspires me – the fact that life always gives us second chances – that it’s never too late to grow, learn, evolve, and continually change.

Now that I’ve learned more in the art world, I find my romantic whimsy in Chagall, the art therapy part of my work portrayed in Frida Kahlo, the collage part in Matisse, and the abstractions in Kandinsky.

Artist Amy Oestreicher 2015_X

CAGCT: Where do you work?

AO: I work in a studio in my basement that used to be an old storage room.  I tend to work with a lot of layering and mixed media materials – anything from tissue paper to fabric, buttons, papers, or toilet paper (I created much art in hospitals and was very limited with materials!).

The process really depends on what I am sensing within. I love playing with textures, colors and shapes and allowing them to form the sadness, frustration, joy, or whatever inspiration I am feeling at that moment. I love acrylic painting, mixed media art, collage, clay sculpting – anything that I can fully immerse myself in and grasp a sense of who I have become, and discover my interior world.

The best thing about my studio is how it envelopes me – the space is relatively small, and there are shelves on every side, so the shelves of supplies form a circle around me, like my copic markers, stamps, cigar boxes and paints are all surrounding me with love and support, giving me a big bear hug. If I turn around, myself, in a complete circle, all I see are my art supplies. No windows, nothing but art. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m down there.

Amy Oestreicher_Kid Today

CAGCT: How has your work changed over time?

AO: As a self taught artist, I first started to paint to express what I was feeling. It was deeply personal, unstructured, free form, and uninhibited. Now, it is still abstract and personal, but more artistically refined as I have discovered my artistic voice and learned new techniques.

Only lately have I started making my passion a business. I started blogging daily just as a way to document all of the painting I was doing. Soon, I amassed a large social media following, and now have people waiting to see what I’ve created every day! I just opened my first Etsy storefront and am selling motivational prints of a painting that I first made in the hospital, with plans to donate some to foundations and hospitals. I’m also selling cards of my work and mixed media pins – I do sell my originals though it’s sentimentally difficult for me! My art is currently in seven galleries in the area, with the latest in a museum that I always loved as a child.

Amy Oest_2015

 

Visit Amy online at Etsyher website, and Facebook.

How to Prepare for An Art Fair

how to prepare for an art fairYou’ve signed up for the art show.  So, do you have a plan for how to prepare for an art fair?

All those lovely people will be passing by your tent at the next art show, enjoying  the weather, enjoying the music.

But you want them to stop, look and buy.

Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield offers a fantastic checklist and timeline for what to do

  • right now, like setting goals
  • soon, like publicity and pricing
  • two weeks before the show, including invitations
  • just before the show, like coming up with a way to count visitors and collect email addresses
  • last minute (don’t forget to remind people to come!)

If you like tips like these and want more, you can….

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A good look at “Barnwood”

Erin & Vin Scimeca of Barnwood & Bangles

At our June meeting, we got an up close and personal look at our members, Erin and Vin Scimeca’s work. They are the owners of “Barnwood and Bangles,” a custom furniture and home decor company, with items made from reclaimed wood and other beautiful recycled items.

Upcycled furniture vintage Connecticut

Erin and Vin both have “day” jobs, but you can see they are really dedicated to the work they are doing “on the side”… it’s visible in everything they have done in their own house.

The wooden flooring in the kitchen is gorgeous and completely redone with recycled palette wood.

They hosted a holiday pop-up shop in their space with great success.

They’ve built a beautiful seating area in their Lordship-area backyard, including a “stargazer”… reclaimed from their daughter Kate’s old bunkbed.

Brand and Bangles Stargazer converted Bunkbed Arts Guild
You have to take a good, close look at just about everything in their family room… because it’s probably been handcrafted by the couple: everything from the bar to the long table and bench, from the reclaimed wood coatrack. In fact, the whole, amazingly beautiful room was once a garage!

Erin and Vin will be bringing Barnwood and Bangles to our August show Artists & Artisans in Paradise, but I’d recommend you connect with them soon. Their work is sure to be big demand before you know it.

Fire and Paint: The Art of John Houle

John Houle Burnt Offerings 2015

A first place winner at the Elements of Nature Art Show, John Houle’s pyrography is instantly recognizable for it texture and technique.

“I believe art should … make a statement about who we are and about our passions. Pyrography, scrimshaw on wood or woodburning, as an art form is timeless and yet very unique. Our ancestors used burnt wood (charcoal) to depict their everyday lives on cave walls before there were other media.”

John Houle Timber Wolves

John Houle, the artist behind “Burnt Offerings,” depicts animals active in nature, as well as familiar markers of a natural landscapes, such as mills, lighthouses, and trees in his work. The subject matter and the media are intricately intertwined.

“The use of Birch wood with its tight grain, allows for intricate and extensive detail and texture. The marriage of the two mediums, pyrography and acrylic wash, greatly enhance the creation allowing you to touch the scales of a bass striking a plug, feel the plumage of a preening bird or touch the rocks beneath a wave washed lighthouse.”

Houle’s work will be available this weekend at Artists and Artisans in Paradise, August 30th at Paradise Green.

Stonehill industrial decor influenced by family

Stonehill Design: Cylindrical Honeycomb Light
Stonehill Design’s Cylindrical Honeycomb Light

Fairfield-based designer and artist Jason Aleska of Stonehill Design has mechanical handiwork in his genes.

“My grandfather owned a tool and die shop which eventually evolved in my father’s business, Advance Heat Treating Co. in Fairfield, CT.

I was always fascinated by the amazing machines they had in the shop, like the Bridgeport Milling Machine, a relic we still have to this day…”

Aleska gives old items a new lease on life, upcycling rustic and vintage industrial pieces such as fans, rotary phones, radios, space heaters and more.

The new items become fanciful, mechanical and are, in fact, still useful. They are also one-of-a-kind lighting and decor, fabricated by hand in his workshop.

“These men, using these tools were able to provide for 3 generations of our family. They instilled in me an appreciation for quality workmanship and a respect for the time it takes to do something yourself.”

Come and meet Aleska and see his beautifully crafted work Sunday, May 3rd at the Baldwin Center in Stratford.